Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah says the low voter turnout during by-elections in Matenje Ward was not due to the current political impasse and the ongoing court cases against the commission.
Ansah made the remarks in Blantyre on Wednesday where she declared Malawi Congress Party (MCP) candidate Descent Msatero Chipangula winner of the Matenje Ward by-elections in Kasungu.
In the by-elections, out of 15,760 registered voters, a total of 3,089 voters turned up for polling. This represents 19.60 percent voter turnout.
Ansah said every time Local Government Elections are held alone there is low voter turnout.
She said the trend started with the Local Government Elections held in 2000 whereby voter turnout was 14 percent.
Last year, the Commission held by-elections in Milonde Ward of Mulanje South East and Malindi Ward of Mangochi North East constituencies where turnout was at 19.14 percent and 33.79 percent respectively.
The situation was also similar in by-elections conducted on October 17, 2017. In Mayani North Ward in Dedza there was voter turnout of 30.89 percent, in Mtsiliza Ward in Lilongwe City West Constituency it was at 16.84 percent while in Ndirande Makata Ward in Blantyre Malabada Constituency 18.29 percent of registered voters turned up.
“There has never been a ward that has attained 40 percent voter turnout and there are several that have registered lower voter turnout than Matenje ward before,” said Ansah.
She revealed that the commission was concerned with the trend and would want to get to the root cause.
“There is need to talk to the voters why they do not show up for voting,” Ansah said
She then appealed to stakeholders to join hands and reverse this trend. She also urged the electorate to appreciate the role and importance of the Local Government system in the development of the country.